A Dunedin man will not face charges after he fired 30 rounds from his AR-15 rifle at his pool cleaner whom he mistook for an intruder earlier this month, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced on Monday.
Jana and Bradley Hocevar were watching a movie at their home around 9 p.m. June 15 when Jana Hocevar heard noise coming from their lanai, Gualtieri said at a news conference Monday morning. Jana Hocevar, 43, said she saw an unfamiliar man within feet of the sliding glass doors and called 911.
The man, 33-year-old Karl Polek, works for Bay Area Pool Techs and was cleaning the Hocevars’ pool. However, Gualtieri said Polek had never shown up to clean the pool after dark in the previous six months he had done the job and did not alert the couple of his presence.
Bradley Hocevar, 57, yelled at the supposed intruder to go away. Gualtieri said footage from the pool deck shows Polek went to get a flashlight from his truck while Bradley Hocevar yelled, making it likely Polek didn’t hear him.
When Polek returned to the pool deck, he used the flashlight to fill out paperwork, then turned toward the house to place the paperwork by the door. When Bradley Hocevar saw the flashlight moving toward the house, he opened fire.
The audio from the 911 call reveals Bradley Hocevar fired two rounds through the sliding glass door. Polek ran away after the first two rounds, but the Hocevars could not see because the blinds were closed and they were taking cover behind their couch.
The 911 dispatcher on the phone and Jana Hocevar repeatedly pleaded with Bradley Hocevar to put down the rifle and stop firing. But 47 seconds after the first two rounds, Bradley Hocevar fired a few more rounds. Finally, about 25 seconds later, Bradley Hocevar unloaded his AR-15′s magazine — meaning he fired 30 rounds in about 90 seconds, Gualtieri said.
Polek sustained minor injuries from shrapnel and flying glass, but was not hit directly by the bullets.
Gualtieri said Florida’s stand your ground law protects Bradley Hocevar’s right to fire on someone he believed posed a threat to him and his wife.
“There was no crime committed,” Gualtieri said. “This is one of those situations we call lawful but awful.”
Gualtieri said Polek agreed he probably should have warned the couple he was going to clean the pool after dark.
Bullets from rifles travel long distances, and Gualtieri said it was lucky no passersby were injured. Deputies found stray bullets on the shuffleboard court behind the Hocevar’s home.
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The shooting is another in a recent series of cases in Florida and nationwide in which people have been shot or shot at because of mistaken identity, trivial situations or other circumstances that have stirred controversy.
The Hocevars could not be reached at their listed phone numbers for comment, and Polek, when reached by Facebook instant messenger, said he needed to consult with his attorney before he could comment.